The Aston Martin Rapide is an incredible vehicle. It’s arguably one of the most impressive sedans in the world, up there with the Mercedes S65 AMG, the Porsche Panamera Turbo S, and the finest Bentleys and Rolls Royces. Its two rear doors were added without compromising the integrity of its looks or shape; it’s literally an Aston for the whole family. It has a creamy V12 producing over 550 horsepower, but its velvety demeanor takes precedent over all-out track performance.
It’s every inch an Aston. But it’s aging, and the British marque has big plans for revitalizing the Rapide nameplate — it wants to take a page from Tesla’s playbook, and make an electric model that’s capable of 800 horsepower and is focused more intently on the track and less about dropping the kids off at prep school.
In its latest iteration, the Tesla Model S — known as the P90D — produces 762 horsepower and is reportedly capable of blitzing 60 in 2.8 seconds. While most Teslas will exchange hands for under $150,000, Aston Martin is obviously being as Aston as possible and will likely be charging $200,000 to $250,000 per unit when its electric Rapide arrives, theoretically in two years.
“If you want to keep making [V12] engines, then you’ve got to do something at the opposite end of the spectrum,” said Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer when speaking with Automotive News. “What Tesla clearly shows you is we haven’t hit the ceiling in terms of price. But I think it’s hard, though not impossible, for them as a relatively new brand to keep pushing up and to go into that super premier area,” he added.
Let’s be pretty clear here — you’re going to see a lot of headlines about the ‘Tesla-killing’ nature of an electric Rapide. While the car will undoubtably hold many similarities (performance, comforts, overall sedan shape), the Aston will be no more a Tesla killer than any of the others. The BMW i8, the Porsche Panamera hybrid, the BMW i3, the Cadillac ELR, and even the Chevrolet Volt have all been given the same title. Yet Tesla lives on. It’s going to take more than an ultra-luxury Aston that costs twice as much to throw the California-based upstart off-balance.
Still, Palmer couldn’t resist a jab. “I think that the fact that you could drive a few laps of a decent race course or race it around the Nordschleife [famed track in Germany] is much more interesting than doing 500 meters in Ludicrous mode,” he said.
Aston Martin isn’t going to sell enough volume to sway the market, but it shows that even the highest echelons of the automotive circles are embracing pure EV performance to shore up their green cred whilst not sacrificing their ability to perform (remember the Cygnet? Aston would rather you didn’t).
Will this car compete with Tesla for consumer dollars? Sure it will. But then, every other luxury sedan does as well — people gravitate toward Tesla because they’re looking for something in particular. The Audi A7, in all its fossil fuel-burning greatness, also competes with Tesla for consumer dollars. And, in some degree, so does every other luxury car on the market — because we’re consumers, and as such, can make the choice as to where to spend our money.
Will the Aston be exceptional? Undoubtably. Will it outperform Tesla’s finest? Perhaps. Will it sink the company? Absolutely not.